So I’m at this place with a track I’m working on where I really like it. It’s got potential. Like, real potential to be cool.
But I know myself too well and in about six days I’m gonna hate the fuck out of it.
So I’m taking a new tack with it, in that I’m working on it in spurts. Listen to it for a minute, make a few modifications, add a thing, subtract a thing, and when I like it enough that I’ve listened to the refrain ten times or so, I quit Ableton and move on to something else – the recap of the Blues game, dust off a blog, some shit like that.
Now, all I need to do is figure out how to deconstruct what I have, turn it into a composition – all without hating it – and get it released. I’ve got a few more weeks (‘woo!’ to self-imposed guidelines), but I’ll do it.
I had some time to really think about how I wanted to pull a novel/story/book together and I think I’ve finally got an outline I can work with. Oddly enough, all it took was a few afternoons with a few adult beverages and voila. Unlocked and in route.
What I struggle with now is how to go back and read my notes without slamming my journal closed in disgust.
I really have a problem with unfinished work, almost to the point of self-sabotage. Fucking sucks.
So I rolled back from Mexico with some pretty cool gifts for people, and being one of those guys that is a shitfuck of a present-buyer-and-giver, I was stoked that all the things I got for people actually worked.
I got my boss (not brown nosing. Fuck you.) a cool calavera and gave the second to a super cool lady who’s eventually going to knit me a black super hero cape out of yarn because I shamed her into it. I mean, fuck, why does that little kid get a cape and I don’t? That’s what I thought.
Anyway, best gifts are best – especially when they start becoming Urban Legends.
Does Payroll really have Mexican Wrestling Masks?
I wonder how that happened. What the shit?
I guess my boss walked by their office today and gave them the What The Actual Fuck before shaking his head and walked off, basking in incredulity.
Who’s in the house? JC!
I’ve written music and words and now I need to go read a bit before I go to bed.
New habits and all…
Dude, it’d been years since we’d taken a vacation that didn’t involve family members, graduations or death, and it was way overdue – in a seriously, I’m Going To Kill Someone If I Don’t Check Out Right The Fuck Now sort of way so we packed our shit and headed south, where I could perpetuate the stereotype that infrastructure problems would keep me from being able to check email to assuage any guilt.
Felt fucking good, too.
That’s not to say that I didn’t check an email every now and then, ’cause shit happens and you get that itch to know what the hell kind of shitstorm rages, but I didn’t need to, and that need, in and of itself, is enough of an invisible yoke upon the neck to cause perpetual spinal damage. I had to remove the need. Motherfucker was stooping in a big fucking way.
We decided on San Miguel de Allende, in part, to correct an opportunity missed by a hormonally active Teenage Ivonne’s suspect decision-making,1 but Guanajuato – new to me – was like a multi-faceted gem nestled in a small box under the farthest Christmas limb. I can only imagine she felt more than little pleased with herself with the knowledge of what’s coming.
All of this was framed in the context of experiencing Day of the Dead in Mexico, giving Reza the opportunity to let her cultural roots dig beyond their admittedly negligible depth. Can’t say I didn’t spend considerable time trying to sell it like a mofo, though, ’cause she wasn’t having missing Halloween for this bullshit; we’re already headed uphill no matter what, so this better be fun, Dad. Never mind the fact that this was the trip that will be forever marked by lessons in privacy, I think she had a really good time, all things considered. Sure, she felt the pangs of distress when she saw other kids in the Jardin comparing handfuls of candy from their jack-o-lantern pails, but I think she moved past it relatively well: there were so many other distractions. Ice cream and churros fill the Obligatory Sweets requirements, sure, but face-paint, music, singing – or attempts, more accurately – flags, fireworks, massive papier-mâché skeletons and devils and brides excelled wondrously at keeping a wide-eyed nine-year-old occupied. And while the memories will last a bit longer than the candy, it was a deeper understanding I wanted her to feel, even if she couldn’t quite comprehend it just yet. She will some day, though.
Comprehension is selective, though, upon whom she alights.
Day of the Dead has always been the Mexican Version of Halloween – a subset of makeup reserved for the especially lazy or unimaginative – or an excuse to stretch the drunken festivities from one day into two; Gothic Cinco (and Seis) de Mayo, really, and that’s truly unfortunate for everyone involved – not just those who feed the Cultural Appropriation machine or those who feed from it, but – more importantly – those caught in the teeth.
I dig cemeteries in a big way, so I love visiting. The history is palpable: You can touch it, read it, feel it, hear it and it never becomes tiresome, if only because headstones fade slower than faces and are much more forgiving. You can truly be anything you want in death because it’s not long before you can’t really be questioned.
And Mexican cemeteries are not to be fucked with, though, ’cause that’s a whole different ballgame. Tightly packed, with no real sense of organization to the untrained eye, what seems like a product of poor planning is really a subtle2 lesson in corporeal egalitarianism that makes you realize that Death really gives Zero Fucks.
But there’s a real sense of community in a festival like the Day of the Dead that can’t be explained without living it and being a part of it, something of which I was painfully aware as we walked through the cemetery in San Miguel de Allende. As beautiful as it was – flowers, sugar, food and music – I didn’t belong there. I had no family there, no friends. I was there as an observer and it felt horribly uncomfortable, like I was making a spectacle out of their grief, because this was no party. This was no “pouring one out for the homies” and drinking until you puke on a headstone.
These are old women washing the names of their husbands, dead now for fifteen years, devotion just as strong now as the strength of his youth. These are families of six, 10, 11 people crowded around the six by three mound of fresh, fenced earth. They’re placing flowers, holding hands, looking at pictures and staring. Just staring. And sure, the surrounding days are celebrations of the process of death – what it means to know where we are and where we’re going – but the appropriation of that process, either by unwittingly making it a spectacle or simply choosing to ignore the significance so I can wear some badass makeup, is perpetuating the idea that it somehow lacks the depth to make it holy. This ceremony, these rituals, they should be untouchable.
It says something that the only people in skull face on that day were those who came to watch.
We always used to think it’d be awesome to be the only guy at the Lesbian Bar, ’cause man, you get to sit back and drink beers and watch hot chicks make out with each other! That’s gotta be badass!
Yeah, it’s not.
I left feeling ashamed, really. And sure, it was important to let Reza see a very meaningful part of her heritage, but it just felt … it just felt wrong. Disrespectful. My shorts and t-shirt decried my spectatorship and I couldn’t have been more out of place than if I was holding a bag of popcorn.
And I think that’s exactly how I should have felt.
It’s not a party. It’s not an excuse to extend Halloween. It’s not a parade in Old Town. It’s ceremony and ritual and love and respect. And it should be dignified as such.
Sure, there are a plethora3 of other things I’ll write about later, but for that moment in time, the real reason why we went, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Yeah, so today is 4th of July and I guess something big happened today a long time ago. Cool.
Probably because of my upbringing, I’ve never felt the patriotic spirit, in that Yay 4th Of July Fireworks Explosions Greatest Country Ever Yay way. Give me the Olympics and I’m a Flag-Waving Redneck, but otherwise, ok, go ‘Murrica. I’ve always agreed with the idea that the geographical isolation of North America has provided us a significantly different empirical and patriotic path, but I digress: Here we are, we gotta own it.
The long and short of it is that I’m feeling far more comfortable with where ‘here’ is, lately, and that’s oddly awkward. I don’t hide where I stand on gun control or global warming or immigration or constitutional sanctity or any other hot-button issues that cause divorces, but I don’t begrudge anyone else their ideas and ethics, either. That, if anything, is what makes our society so cool; My youngest brother Jon is a full on Gun Nerd and I gotta respect that. Jake, too. (Well, maybe not nerds, but they like their firearms. All good!) And they may think I’m a tree-hugging liberal destined to be robbed at gunpoint ’cause I refuse to protect myself, but hey, that’s my right, too, regardless of perceived foolhardiness. But we won the first major Equality battle1 and that’s fucking badass. There’s good here, more good than not, and I’m looking in the mirror when I say that we forget about what we have because we have so much of it.
What we’re missing is the fact that we have the opportunity to talk about it, to discuss it, to think beyond the four walls we call home and try to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Some people don’t have that opportunity: Some of our next door neighbors are dying, trying to a find a place to rest before attempting to make a better life across an invisible border and if we stop the carousel for just a quick second to realize that, even as a thinly-veiled Theocracy, we have it better than some, well, we might learn to appreciate it more. Even people like me – a Male, White, Married, 2%-er – can sit in front of our synthesizers and monitors and laptops and type these words rather than live them; after this cup of coffee, I’m going to go ride my bike for fitness, not because it’s my only means of transportation. Think about that for a second.
We live in the Ivory Tower and we’re shitting in the corners and wondering why it smells. Oh, make no mistake, there’s a lot to clean up, but ok, so if the walls don’t get painted the color I wanted, that’s cool. We have walls.
I dunno. I guess this is my way of saying I’m grateful.
Pretty condescending way to do it, eh? Heh.
So thanks, America, for letting me be a Freedom-Hating Liberal. Whether we admit it or not, me and my Jesus-Freak Conservative brethren2 appreciate you.
I’ve blacked out a few times, but usually because I’d mixed alcohol with other things and well, we all know how that goes. The next thing you know, you’re laying on the front porch with your pants at your ankles, a shoehorn in your ass, and six texts from a Tijuana area code. A year ago Saturday was not one of those fun times.
I woke up that morning scared to fucking death – not because my wife wasn’t in the bed. Or all the blankets were missing. Or that my room smelled like piss. Or that my mouth tasted like cat shit – but that I couldn’t remember any of it.
So Ivonne’s anger – nay, righteous fury – was accentuated by the real unadulterated fear of What The Hell Have I Done.
Now, we’ve all woken up and asked those questions through dry heaving in the shower, but this one was totally fucking different, in that, I’d been through this, but not like this.
I fucked it up. I fucked it all up.
My relationship with alcohol has been no secret to those who have watched me abuse it over the years, and make no mistake – because I no longer rationalize my behavior – what I was doing is the very definition substance abuse. We can name them whatever we want and we can argue their place on the moral compass, but I had to quit. There was – and is – no middle of the road: My health, my relationships, my family demanded it.1 So, I quit. Enough was enough.
So as of this coming Saturday, 4th of July, I’ll have been sober for a full year.2
And I am extremely proud of myself.
But not for the reasons you might think.
Sure, I stayed sober for a year. Yay me! But in reality, who fucking cares? I’m a Grown Ass Man and I shouldn’t be celebrated for something I should be controlling anyway. Oh, you know how to change a diaper? Father Of The Year! You managed to not get shithoused and throw a submarine sandwich at a laundromat window? Gold Star!
Nah, that’s bullshit.
Drinking wasn’t my problem: My perception of Me was the problem. I was engaging in willful self-destruction because I didn’t like who I was and what I’d become. And when they talk about a downward spiral, that’s exactly how it feels. So when you come to those realizations… well it’s mind blowing.
But I didn’t know where to start or how to get help. I’d thought about seeking a therapist, but I’d heard so many disparate stories about the good and the bad that I really didn’t expect much from it. Going to see one, though, was just as much a commitment to my mental health as it was a sign to Ivonne that I was willing to do whatever necessary to be better. Fuck my pride, something has to give.
So my first appointment with the therapist was terrifying. I walked into the her office and said, “Look, I don’t need drugs and I’m not an alcoholic, but I’m standing in the middle of a minefield. I have no idea how I got here but I need to get out without blowing myself up. All I need is for someone to hold my hand and show me how to navigate this because I have no idea.”
She asked me a few things – about my relationships, my perceptions, yes – but then started asking about my sleeping habits, my thought processes – not the thoughts themselves, mind you – and told me point blank, “You realize you’re depressed, right?”
Absolutely. Of course I knew it. I was exhibiting all the signs… But I didn’t really know know it until right then.
Depression was a bad word in my house as I grew up. I can’t work because I’m Depressed. You, 16 year old, go support the family ’cause I can’t. I’m Depressed. “Depression” conjures up images of stifling desert heat, cockroach infested apartments, Shingen and dog shit on carpet. I can’t be the D word because I’m not that thing. I work, I support my family, I’m responsible, dammit. But I was depressed. Ivonne knew it. I knew it. Fuck, Spencer knew it, too. And I needed to realize it.
So I started talking about it. I started understanding reciprocal relationships and how to balance my needs with the needs of others. I stopped playing roles and simply breathed. And lest you think this is natural, inspect the masks we wear on a daily basis and tell me if they’re truly and completely honest. They can’t be. They exist as protection, as motivators, as enticements, as warnings, but when they become a crutch? And when that crutch becomes dependent on crutches of their own? Well, now we see a bit farther down the road.
Even before that appointment, I’d committed to stop drinking for the indeterminate future, so I’d already felt like I’d made a positive decision, but I knew that wasn’t the crux of why I needed to talk to someone. The thing was that I didn’t really know why, I just knew something was wrong. Substance abuse? Self-deprication? Ultimately, these are symptoms, not the issue. Once I realized that, the lightbulb went on and has stayed on ever since.
I have completely changed my lifestyle. I bike sixty miles a week now. 60 fucking miles a week. To Donglecorn or Tanner or my other lovable bikenerd friends, that’s child’s play, but to me? A guy who hasn’t done a positive thing for his body in the history of ever? This is a big fucking deal. I have muscles in my legs! Who fucking knew??
I have completely re-evaluated my relationships with people: Ivonne, Reza, everyone. I figured out that there are some people who say I’m important to them but don’t treat me that way. Where’s the reciprocation? Then, there were others who came out of the woodwork with open arms, ready to help, people I had no idea cared as deeply as they did. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that I’d been actively rejecting positive and healthy relationships and I felt ashamed. I felt chagrined. But I felt so humbled that there were people who had been giving me love regardless of the fact that I wasn’t giving it back. So I started doing that, too, and all of a sudden, those relationships blossom and I’m not mourning the ones I’ve lost ’cause I’m too busy appreciating the ones I have.
My family? Those relationships aren’t above scrutiny either. I’ve made a real effort to reach out to Jason – not because there was anything wrong, but because it wasn’t as close as I needed it to be. He and I have always have a familial bond, but that day-to-day “Hey man, I need to run some things by you” relationship – we’ve never really had it and I needed it to be more. That’s not a fault, mind you, it’s just how our lives have progressed and evolved: Unfortunately, they grew and progressed away from each other and all of a sudden I’m calling to a man with my blood from across a chasm and all I’m getting back is my own echo. That’s bad news. But I had to build it. That’s not on him, that’s on me. It is my responsibility to make my effort tangible. And it’s hard work! It’s not easy to admit that you’re not being the brother that you can be and should have been.. but it’s working. And it’s so fucking badass, it’s indescribable.
But I’m not saying everything is great because I stopped drinking for a year, but there’s no doubt that it’s one less thing I’ve had to worry about. I told Ivonne as much when I started this process: It’s not that I don’t trust myself, but, hey, I don’t trust myself and I’ve got other things to work on right now. Why exacerbate that process by adding abuse and distrust to the mix? Who knows if I’ll ever drink again, but I’m not thinking about that right now. It just wasn’t – and still isn’t – part of the game I’m playing.
And Ivonne? Shit man, she and I are stronger than ever. Reza? She doesn’t comment on beer bottles anymore. She talks about how my belly is getting smaller and how she’s gonna miss the Big Bowl of Jelly when it’s gone. It’s those kinds of things that reinforce that what I’m doing – what I’ve already done – are really good things for me. Maybe not for you, but for me? Nothing but positive.
So yeah, it’s working. And I’m proud of myself ’cause I should be. But what’s next? I’ve hit a year; time to celebrate?
Well, I’m not going to go get a growler of Pliny on Sunday if that’s what you’re thinking.
Now that my self-imposed moratorium is up, it’s time to rely up on what I’ve come to understand:
Being drunk isn’t sexy. It’s not funny. It’s not cool.
Propriety does not include public vomiting.
Regardless of what your drunk ass may think, rolling up on your lady at 2:00 AM with Vodka Breath is not an aphrodisiac.
You can never truly find your composure once you’ve lost it.
Not one person you’ve looked up to has ever been a mentor because of their ability to pound Jaeger and drive home.
‘My hangover is more awesome than yours,’ said no one ever.
Quality always defeats Quantity.
So if I choose to have a beer, ok. If I want to have a glass of wine with co-workers at a going away party, we’ll see. But I don’t know. I’m going to worry about that then, not now. All I know is that I simply have no desire for one to turn into four and where are my keys, holy shit did you see her ti… what? I can’t hear you! Ah fuck it, I’m here, might as well. I’m pretty sure I just lost my wedding ring. Another round?
Happy Anniversary, JC. Well done.
- To be clear, Ivonne never ONCE said, Stop Drinking Or I’m Leaving You. But she could have and most likely probably should have. I’m just glad she didn’t. [↩]
- And again, to be totally honest, I’ve had a taster here and there, but even if I was missing my thumb and index finger, I could count on one hand how many those have been in the last 365 days. [↩]
I mean, might as well get it out there.
It’s not really a story, and my genitals don’t necessarily play a large part in it, but by this time you know me and well, it all circles back to my sack.
Things are really fucking good right now and I’m not worried about jinxing it by saying it – but I’ll find some wood anyway.
Work is both challenging and rewarding: My bosses and my team have given me the leeway to play to my strengths – this is harder to find than we imagine – and right now, I’m feeling pretty lucky. I’m trying to fine tune things every day, trying to break out of some bad habits, trying to be supportive in the right ways and it’s a challenge, yeah, but I’m getting better.
Speaking of getting better, this mofo has been riding some bikes like nobody’s business.
So back in December or so, Ivonne had been encouraging me to find some physical activity that I enjoyed, something that would keep me busy and occupied while I worked through some shit. Turns out my loathing for the gym is diametrically opposite to my love for cycling. Now, I’m not trying to be Lance Armstrong or anything, but I can see how people get into this so hardcore. I’ve gone from a leisurely bike ride with the girls on Saturday’s to three-to-four-times-a-week, averaging about 25 miles a week, now. I’m biking home from work, doing 11, 12 mile rides on weekends and frankly, kicking ass.
This is a big deal for me. I’ve never cared about health shit, more-so because if my innate sense of indestructibility (read: Laziness) than the inability to see the value in exercise. I hate the fucking gym. I hate the smell, I hate the music, I hate the clang of the weight machines as they chide my wussiness. Excepting my brother Jason, I hate the people that go to the gym with their beautiful bodies and rippling muscles and ponytails sticking out of their non-fitted baseball caps that proudly blaze the name of some protein powder that will give you that long-sought-after third testicle (or first if you’re so structured) while I’m simply trying to see mine again. (Jason, your lady is cool too, so don’t beat me up.) I don’t like the locker rooms where someone with a larger penis than me is strapping 15 pound weights to each nut and walks round doing Dude Kegels while he shaves with a large piece of firewood. It’s just… It’s not the place for me.
So finding this was super fucking cool and I’m all into it. So into it, in fact, that I pushed through the impending Taint Failure. The craftiness of the chafed ass is more craftiness than I can avoid, but there’re creams for that. I have them now. I have padded underwear. I’m gonna go buy padded gloves tomorrow to power through the carpal tunnel I think I’m finally developing. 20 years of typing? No carpal tunnel. Three months of biking? Carpal tunnel. This will not stop me. I’m not looking to bike the rim of the Grand Canyon or anything, but for now, if I can get to biking from work three times a week, plus throw down some 15 mile whatnots on Saturday and Sunday, I’m a happy camper. The weight will do what it wants to do and frankly. I don’t care: It’s gonna take a while and that’s all good; it took a long time to put it on, it’ll take a long time to take it off, but as long as I’m doing something I like, then who cares? I feel better, i’ve got awesome legs and by next week, I’ll be hanging weights on my nads, so fuck you gym!
And on that note, I gotta get ready to go back in to work.
Definitely driving. 😀
I know I haven’t updated here in a really long time and I’ll rectify that post haste…
… I’ve been biking a lot. Much to talk about there.
Reza wants to watch Jaws tonight.
Scarred for life?
Don’t mind if I do.
Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter underneath the holly! We know you, and have not outlived you yet. Welcome, old projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us. Welcome, all that was ever real to our hearts; and for the earnestness that made you real, thanks to Heaven! Do we build no Christmas castles in the clouds now? Let our thoughts, fluttering like butterflies among these flowers of children, bear witness! Before this boy, there stretches out a Future, brighter than we ever looked on in our old romantic time, but bright with honour and with truth. Around this little head on which the sunny curls lie heaped, the graces sport, as prettily, as airily, as when there was no scythe within the reach of Time to shear away the curls of our first-love. Upon another girl’s face near it–placider but smiling bright–a quiet and contented little face, we see Home fairly written. Shining from the word, as rays shine from a star, we see how, when our graves are old, other hopes than ours are young, other hearts than ours are moved; how other ways are smoothed; how other happiness blooms, ripens, and decays–no, not decays, for other homes and other bands of children, not yet in being nor for ages yet to be, arise, and bloom and ripen to the end of all!
– Charles Dickens
So a few weeks ago – OK, mid-October, really – Siebs flew up for the weekend so we could attend the Raiders/Cardinals game in Oakland. Never mind the fact that I really think I’m getting too old to go see sporting events in enemy territory, that trip taught me a valuable lesson about recommendations: everyone else’s opinions are stupid and mine are always awesome. This fact was reinforced by an attempt at maybe getting Jason to see the value of my recommendational greatness yet – once again – eating a bag of abject failure.
One does NOT fall asleep on 13 Assassins!
I’ll admit, like my blog posts, it’s a bit slow in the beginning, but it gets wonderfully violent and bloody and epic and heroic at the end! It’s worth the subtitle-laden character development! TOTAL MASSACRE!
So go watch it and be amazed, ’cause it’s cool as shit.
Speaking of Total Massacre…1
I got back from Boise last Monday after visiting family for a small reunion of sorts, post-Jared’s-death, which is still really weird to write out on the page. While the actual memorial service was scheduled for this last Saturday2 , we took some time as a family to chill together, enjoy each other’s company, appreciate what we have as a unit and look to make it better. I think any family as large as ours will always have an ebb and flow, but as we get older, I think we become bit more cognizant of what our relationships will ultimately be. It’s a dance, really.
Staggered arrival times were good, in my opinion, if for nothing else but to be able to spend quality time with each other in smaller groups: Jon and I had fantastic conversation the first night I was there, followed by the same with Jason over hotel chill time and breakfast the next few days. By time Jake arrived, we’d had two days to get used to being around each other again and we’re all right back to normal. That takes a bit – getting back to normal3 – but we do it relatively well. There’s no question the dynamic has changed, but that’s part of maturity. It’s like we’re kids painted with adult colors.
Shit got kinda real the last night I was there, but I’m not going to go into it here. Suffice to say we’re still just as opinionated and stubborn as we’ve always been and we’re dogs far too old to be learning anything new, so we just get to lay back and see how this one will pan out. I think the stress of the situation ultimately got to a few people, but that might just be me putting rose-colored glasses on a pretty fucked up situation. Who knows. Everyone’s alive, everyone’s safe, and bruised egos aside, we’re all good – and I’m good with that.
I walked off the plane having learned a few things, though:
1. Go see your brothers more often.
2. It’s ok to appreciate how much you’ve grown and to recognize how much more you have yet to do.
3. Pandering to others opinions only invalidates your own. Don’t do that. Own your place and defend it.
4. Your reasons for feeling the way you do are valid. No question.
5. Everyone has just as much work to do as you.
oh. don’t forget Number 6.
6. Boise sucks. If I never have to go back, it’ll be too soon. In that vein, I hope Jon moves soon so I can visit him elsewhere.
6b. PTSD is real.
So I’m about to turn a pretty large birthday corner here pretty soon. 40 on the horizon! I’m cool with this.
The difference between 40 and 30 is pretty simple really: At 30 you figure you’ve got plenty of time to make a legacy, to do something with your life. At 40, you realize you don’t. The question is whether that translates to tangible results? We’ll see, won’t we…
I dunno. I’m all about just feeling lucky to be able to walk in the door, see my girls, enjoy their company, and do it all again the next day. And for that to continue unabated for the foreseeable future, the next thing to really address is my physical health.
No, I’m not going to go into a bunch of I’m-Gonna-Do-X bullshit just because the new year is around the corner, but the necessity is not lost on me. I’ve received good lab results – well, better lab results – due to significant lifestyle changes and I’m on the cusp on making more. It’s painfully obvious, though, that better physical health is the catalyst to a lot of things I want to do next – or simply keep doing at all.
So, yeah. That’s next. I figure I spent my 30’s overweight. Maybe I’ll spend my 40’s not-so-much. That leaves my 50’s and beyond to shit my pants and hire a nurse.
Alright, my head hurts. Damned florescent lighting. One more meeting and an hour to go and I’m out the door. It’s a beautiful day.
This is my space, to travel within as I chose. Tread my fields with caution, for there are most definitely snakes in the grass. You have been warned.
I missed seeing Jared again, for the second time in as many trips. He’s vanished off to Minnesota to court a girl, marry her, and go to Ecuador to “serve where the need is greater.” Jake, Jason and I had separate conversations about this, and while their disappointment with his choices are evident, what bothers them the most is the apparent abandonment of the blood ties. If anything, that makes me feel that regardless of the gaps between our own relationships, all hope is not lost.
Jared has chosen a lifestyle that the rest of us rejected. His lifestyle requires complete and total commitment, even to the point of turning your back on blood when it’s perceived as poisonous. I do not blame him – if what my mother says is true, and that’s to be debated – Jared’s ideas that he’s fragmented from his family have been filled with the unconditional love from another kind. If he fills whatever voids he has with Religion, who am I to blame him? I’ve made my choices and so has he. I’m very very proud of him, and because he’s my brother I will always love him unconditionally, even if it doesn’t matter so much to him as it does to me. I’m just glad he’s happy and living his live to the fullest. There aren’t many people who can say that.
What I never want him to think, though, is that i’m not proud of him. I won’t ridicule or persecute him for his choices. In fact, to specifically choose a life harder than others based on the faith that you’ll be rewarded by a god that the rest of your siblings either can’t comprehend or don’t believe exists is to be complimented, not opposed. But I don’t think he understands that yet.
So I have to keep trying. Doctrine is not blood, but it can be just as thick sometimes, and I love him regardless.
Death makes martyrs of the most abject of sinners. The mother of the poacher hung at a crossroads is no less a mother who loved her son, a mother who saw him play, fight, love, weep and grow into the man that made decisions with dire implications. It’s a lesson I try to teach Reza every day: there are no punishments, only consequences.
Death glosses over and fills the cracks of imperfection, of hurts, regrets, attitudes and confrontation. Arguments that seemed so valid on a dense summer afternoon hold no weight in the failing light of an early winter evening. You wonder why you had them, where they went, what the point was… Did the seed of doubt grow? Did it plant in places that I could never see – and would never see?
Death silences the retort, quells the argument, cements the frustration in time like a tar pit that will spit out the collected bones a hundred thousand years from now. And still we rage against the inexorable sink.
Jared died on Friday morning in a remote village in the Guyanese jungle called Monkey Mountain. I don’t even know if you could classify it as a “village”. Maybe it really is a mountain full of monkeys. Who knows? We couldn’t help but laugh at the circumstances and thankfully it lifted the pressure of the phone call a bit and if you can’t find humor in that, well… I guess that means you’re not as fucked up as we are. I could only hope to have planned that one out, but Jared fell into that one with apparent ease, so more power to him. He’s managed to finally win the game in perpetuity. Well played.
We wait in a logistical purgatory and I have a feeling it’s going to be a long wait in this gray land. I don’t think I want to go into those details, though; It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I have no control over them and whatever they are, they’ll be. If I rage against them, it’ll only cause me more pain and I’ve got enough to deal with. On the shelf they stay.
There is a spark of light at the center of this, a singularity that burns in the maelstrom of shards that orbit it. That spark is not him; that spark is the rest of us – what we are and can become – but it’s being overshadowed by all this flying glass that can’t help but shred me if I try to reach in and grasp the only bright spot in all of it: I am so fucking pissed at him right now and I’ve got every right to be.
I’m already tired of the drama this has wrought, and I’m not even talking about the logistics of getting him back to the States. I realize completely that my frustration and angst is being created by a preconceived notions and opinions, and my insistence on having them is causing me pain, but I want to feel it. I want to rage against it. I want to fly the bold, unadulterated flag of the used and scream “Injustice!” from the scaffolds because it’s a god damned travesty that we’re being taken for a motherfucking ride – and we’re driving the god damned bus.
One night I’m walking with Jon and his girlfriend and we were all pretty drunk and for some reason, Jaqueline hauled off and slapped me in the face as hard as she could. I mean, WHAP. It had been years since I’d been slapped like that: a full-bore, open-handed, Fuck You slap. We were playing around, it wasn’t because she was being lame or I was being a dick, it was all in good fun but it was hard and I remember thinking, “Well shit. I guess that ends that,” and we went on with our evening.
Imagine being slapped in the face as hard as could be over and over and over again, allowing it to happen, justifying it under the guise of “Well, it’s a noble slap,” and loving it. When the slapping is done, one of two things happen: Either you miss the slapping – and even begin to identify with the slapper – or you wake up and realize, wait a minute, that fucking hurt all this time!
Yeah. That Fucking Hurt All This Time.
There was a video posted of a speech he made at a going-away party that was thrown prior to his leaving for Guyana the first time. “My family isn’t in the truth,” he pined, “and when I was growing up, they really didn’t bother themselves too much with me, let me do whatever I wanted to do, so the congregation really became my family; they disciplined me, they looked after me, they taught me everything I needed to know…”
From a conversation in Facebook about work – my work, his work, both IT related – and how, while I’m part of Executive Management, it’s not something he felt he was quite suited for: “…Family on the other hand actually matters, its one of the few things in this world worth pursuing.”
So where were you?
From a later conversation in which he was totally going off about things he really had no business going off about: “Just because I don’t believe the same things as you do doesn’t mean I don’t value your beliefs,” I said.
“I appreciate that.”
We went on:
My stand (on his spirituality, his existence as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses) is permanent. I have seen so much that of all the witnesses I have the least excuse to leave. I wonder if Jake understands that. Will his hatred for religion preclude coexistance with me?
I think he understands it but doesn’t like it. And that’s ok. The question is whether or not you want to have a relationship with him knowing how he feels about religion. The question isn’t whether he’ll have a relationship with you. I think he’s shown – in his own way – that he wants to. But he also knows how Witnesses feel about associating with people outside the organization. If you want to coexist with him – any of us, really – we realize it has to be within the confines of what your conscience will allow.
Good points. I’m not sure how that’s bridged, frankly. I mean, you and I having this discussion is a good thing ’cause it gives me insight into where your head is so that we can find that common ground. The difference is that I know being a Witness is your life and I’m not going to dissuade you or make you feel that it’s not a valuable life choice. The difference is that we both have to be willing to dance to each other’s tune just enough to respect that position and forge a relationship within it. Jake, on the other hand, takes it personally and sees it as an affront to the familial brotherhood bond. Gotta remember that from his perspective, nothing else is more important. So for you to put a religion (any religion, for that matter) before your familial responsibility (or his perception of that responsibility, I should say) is offensive. Not saying he’s right, but that’s the perspective. Now, couple that with your inability to beat around the bush, then, well, that’s gas on a fire.
I probably shouldn’t have spoken for Jake, but Jared’s asking and if I can help him understand someone else’s perspective – assuming he really wanted to have a relationship with Jake – then maybe it’ll be a conduit to better days? But I digress.
On one hand he’s saying that he’s got no problem associating with any of us, but then says he’s got nothing to talk to us about. Why not try? Why not reach out and put your personal beliefs aside and find a common ground? It’s possible. Really. You know how I know it works? Because I fucking did it. I put myself out there so many times to say, ‘Hey, man, I know you feel like you’re alone and nobody loves you and nobody sees your plight and nobody cares, but I do. I’m here. You wanna talk? What’s new in your world? Talk to me about being a Witness, I won’t harp on it or think it’s uncool. As a matter of fact, I’m proud of you! I tell every Witness that comes to my door that you’re a Ministerial Servant – right before I tell them I disassociated myself from the organization. We can find something to talk about. We can have a bond. Somewhere? Right?’
The isolation you describe is fully understandable. You are committed and that’s all you have time for. I respect that. I accept that and dude, I’m proud of you. I think I speak for all of us though when I say that we miss you and want to be a part of your life somehow. If you live a solitary life, I think all of us want to know that you feel you can rely on us.
The challenge you face is the fact that we know how people outside of the truth are viewed and we – myself included – tend to get defensive of that. That’s not on you, that’s our issues. What we’d need from you is reassurance that in some form or fashion, you value our place in your life. But that’s conversive as well, right? We’d need to be respectful of your position, your goals and aspirations, what you find important. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
I opened the door. Wide fucking open. Nothing.
This is just one conversation hashed out for posterity over years of the same kind of verbal reassurances I gave him, that we wanted to be a part of his life that was met with absolutely no reciprocity. If a hand is reaching out to you in friendship and love, you have a choice to make. YOU have the choice to make, because I already made mine.
My conscience is clear.
But what if he didn’t want to have a relationship with me? Is it really all that bad?
Case in point: Of my own volition and with full awareness, I have no relationship with my half-sister. She’s never offended me, we’ve never had a ‘falling out’, we’ve never had a knock-down drag-out fight – because there was nothing to fight about. There’s nothing from which to fall out. It simply doesn’t exist.
She’s tried. She’s approached me about “fixing things” and I told her the exact same thing: There’s nothing to fix. Now, if we’re going to attempt to have some sort of relationship, ok, there are terms that need to be understood and agreed upon; the propensity for the whole thing to turn into a shitshow is very very high and I’m no longer in a place in life that makes me want to dig out. I just don’t have the stomach for it anymore. And frankly, I’ve already identified the people to whom I owe allegiance.
One might argue, ‘But you’re hurt about your relationship – or lack thereof – with Jared. How is this different?’
See, it’s not – and I’ve never claimed it was. What would be hurtful – not to me, but to the principle – is if, should I die, my half-sister went on a weeping and gnashing of teeth tirade because her beautiful brother is gone. Endearments toward my beautiful soul, so filled with life, love, and happiness that touched the lives of all of those around me. The singing of my favorite songs. The wailing at pictures of all of us together for the very last time, and oh, how we will miss him so.
That’s something I’d expect from my mom, Jason, Jake, Jon, etc… But someone who doesn’t know me? Who didn’t know Jared? Mourn the possibilities, yes, but to dive in to the opening and take up root where a new plant isn’t needed – or wanted – is offensive to me. It’s not offensive to others, but it is to me, and I don’t want or need someone to fill the void. Be supportive to our mother. Be supportive to Jon when he needs someone to bear the emotional brunt, but ‘the way is shut. It was made by those who are dead and the dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.’
I mourned my relationship with Jared years ago. I came to grips with his loss long before this last Friday. I held out hope, sure, that maybe I’d say something that would wake him up, but I knew nothing would come of it. Deep down I knew all along that I was trying to be subversive for the sake of casting doubt – not in an effort to build something new, but simply to tear down. Because if it had worked and suddenly Jared would have done an about-face, what would I have done? How would I have reacted? What would I have gained?
… and therein is written the lost act of the grand performance.
So I’m wary. And weary. But I’m in a good place.
Ivonne and Reza have been astounding. Brett, Tom, Spencer – my personal support system – has been brilliant in every way.
I miss Jason and Jake and Jon. I’m concerned about my mom. Justin and Russell will be fine.
I miss Jared, too, but I’ve been missing him for years and this is simply an final extension of an already well-known absence. I love him, like I love all of my family, and I will mourn his loss, but I’ll mourn his loss in my own way, with my own perspectives, with my own judgements and in my own light while I unconditionally support the family that will need me most.
Oddly enough, I really do hate getting up in the morning… or used to, anyway. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the quieter moments when the rest of the world is still transfixed on subconscious cinema; that moment when the sky starts to brighten just enough to give you that sense of a clean slate. I don’t know if I could ever make it a habit, but when it happens that I’m up, I tend to really enjoy it. I was chatting with another producer the other night and he mentioned that with all the things in his life – two kids, full-time job – he found that the best window to afford himself was 5 to 7 AM. We both remarked at how backward that seems, but sitting here in front of my monitors with zero distractions and an entire day at your fingertips, I can see how that wouldn’t just be convenient but somewhat inspiring. Hmm. Might be something to that…
So we’re heading out to Portland today for an extended-extended weekend out of town. Don’t rob my shit, please. Technically, I’m not supposed to be off until tomorrow, but damn if I haven’t fucking checked OUT already, so i’m blasting it with piss and leaving a half-day earlier. I was starting to feel a little antsy, like a getaway was long overdue. I’m looking forward to seeing Stephen and Carolin, Tanner, and of course, Lunchbox. I miss that dude and I’m glad I live close enough where a jaunt up north is a possibility, not a punchline.
I’m happy to say, though, that things are running rather smoothly ’round these parts. Tuesday marked four full months of rolling in the booze-free zone and I’m not gonna lie and say it’s been easy, but it hasn’t been hard either. This weekend will mark an interesting evaluation: I call it a test, but it’s not really a test, per se, more than it is an assertion. I see much more positivity in my daily life – how I feel, how I interact with my family, my decision making processes; the idea that I would fuck that up doesn’t sit well with me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss a motherfucking Pliny. *shrug* Maybe one day, but not today.
I went to a co-worker’s going away party a few weeks ago, during game one or two of the World Series – in which, mind you, I’m bummed the Royals didn’t pull it off… – and it was a standard JC goldmine: loud bar, lots of sports, compatriots awaiting that moment when it becomes a “thing” and I start pulling my cock out of my pants or giving I Love You speeches and I felt… bored. Once people realized that I wasn’t going to go off the rails, it turned into something else, something that really had no life to it. I couldn’t tell if that was -me- or the setting – which has so much to do with conversationability (?) – or if I just wasn’t feeling being out that night, which is also true. Kinda poignant, though, when one of my co-workers turns to me and says, “I rented the party bus for you and (another co-worker) and BOTH of you guys are playing it cool tonight! What gives!?”
Just kinda goes to show I feel I’m on the right path for me.
Anyway, I didn’t want to make this post all about this topic, but it’s on my mind and I think people are wondering how I’m doing. The long and short of it is that I’m doing great. All pros, no cons – beyond my own selfish passions – and four months of “hey, right on” to show for it. When drinking culture has played such a large part of your life for so long, it takes a bit to re-arrange your methods; the honeymoon period of “yay me!” wears off and you start to rationalize why it might be ok to get back in the water now and then. I’m having a tough time with that right now, to be completely honest, but I don’t trust myself to be able to keep my footing. Just not ready yet.
Ok! Reza’s up, cats need feeding, I’m caffeinated and gotta shower.
Road trip today? Don’t mind if I do.
a mini bio will go here. kneel before Zod!
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